Medical school usually is the most difficult thing you could have do to yourself and it was so for me. Not because I had to read too much or because the lecturers were wicked or because we were always preparing for an exam. All these things were true but something else made medical school very tough for me.
In my first year of medical school, I met Toba. I came into school later than my colleagues so I had to combine registration with lectures. This wasn’t easy, especially as the lecturers seemed to love the idea of tests even though they’d taught us virtually nothing. I met Toba and everything became magically better. He’d done his remedial studies in the school so he already knew his way around and he almost always knew which lecturers were most likely to give tests.
He helped out a lot and we bonded very quickly. We read together, we attended the same fellowship, it was good. We weren’t the only ones who had a solid boy-girl best-friendship in our class so no eyebrows were raised by our closeness. But then something began to happen. All the other boy-girl best friends started dating. All of them. It was ridiculous. At this point, people started to look at us, expecting us to follow suit.
I liked Toba, sure. He was a cool guy, the kind of guy I would want to marry when the time came but we were in our first year, I didn’t want to think about that kind of thing. We avoided talking about it for a while until one day, someone asked us directly. We were put on the spot and we couldn’t escape without giving an answer. Toba was reluctant to say anything to I replied the person.
“We are friends, period. We are too young to start thinking about relationships, so leave us alone, don’t spoil our friendship.”
That answer soon spread and that was it. Nobody disturbed us and our friendship continued.
Two hundred level began and Emeka entered the picture.
Emeka was a transfer student from another university. I didn’t even know that was possible until he came. He immediately caught my attention from the first day in class. Unfortunately I didn’t catch his. He’d caught the attention of other girls too and he was loving it.
“Don’t you just hate that guy?” I said once to Toba.
“Which guy?” He asked.
“That guy, Emeka the new guy.” I said.
“That’s his name?”
“See the way all those girls are flocking around him, you’d think he was Chris Brown.”
Toba looked at me, looked at Emeka and looked back at me. He shook his head and went back to what he was doing.
I nudged him in the shoulder. “What was that for?”
“That’s the guy that will take you away from me.” He said.
I hissed. How could he take me away when he didn’t even know I existed?
That ignorance of my existence did not last for long though. In a few weeks, all the other girls had dropped off and for some reason he only had eyes for me. He started sitting close to me in class, offering to help me with stuff. He even bought lunch and brought it to my hostel once. At this point I knew Emeka was into me. I had a decision to make. If he asked me out, was I ready for a relationship? Should I say ‘yes’ or should I say ‘no’? Or should I say ‘wait’?
I usually would ask Toba for advice on stuff like this but I had a feeling he wasn’t going to love helping me out with this one.
Fortunately for me, Emeka never got around to asking me out in two hundred level. He didn’t in three hundred level either. He was probably like me, he didn’t want a relationship that early.
Four hundred level came and with it the first complication. Toba asked me out. I was enraged, I was disappointed, I was sad. How could he? We were friends. We had the best friendship in our class. Girls were so jealous of me because all their female besties had disappointed them. How could he ruin such a beautiful thing?
For a whole month I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t answer his calls, I didn’t reply his texts, I stayed as far away as possible from him in class. Annoyingly, he never stopped calling or texting but he also never came to my room. That was good, I wasn’t in the mood to see him anyway. But after a month, I began to miss him. I’d started missing him a week into my ‘strike’ but now, I could not help it.
I answered his call and we agreed to meet.
“Are you ready to apologize now?” I asked.
He smiled. “No.”
“What?” I wanted to fake anger but I didn’t have the energy.
“I told you how I felt, why should I apologize? You didn’t feel the same, all you had to do was say it.”
“This will not ruin our friendship?”
“No, it won’t.” He said.
And it didn’t. From four hundred level to six hundred level, we were back to being best friends. At least, as far as we could go. There were times I had a feeling there was something he wasn’t telling me but could I blame him? He said he loved me and I threw it back in his face.
As graduation approached, I was getting really pissed at Emeka. He was always around. He always said the sweetest things to me. He’d bought me stuff, he took me to places. When I wasn’t chatting or hanging out with Toba, I was with him. I felt like I was in a relationship but I knew that I wasn’t. He was doing great but he never came out straight with what he wanted.
I tried asking Toba for advice once and he told me this was one problem I had to deal with on my own. He and Emeka never became friends but they never clashed either and I understood why he wasn’t going to help me out with this.
This continued until the day of our induction. We were certified Medical doctors now. Six years of hard physical labour and mental abuse was over. Everybody was happy but I wasn’t. I had to sort out this rubbish with Emeka once and for all.
I saw him taking pictures with everybody, hopping around like he was George of the Jungle.
“Emeka, we are about to leave, don’t you have anything to say to me?”
He looked at me, smiled and pulled me into a tight hug.
“I’m going to miss you.” He whispered into my ear.
I pulled away from the hug. “And?”
“And, I hope you’ll miss me too.” He said.
I turned around and stormed away, I had my answer. The fool just played me all through school and I was stupid enough to believe something would come from him. I looked around for Toba. I was ready to burst into tears, I needed someone who I knew truly cared for me.
Maybe there was still a chance he still loved me even. There was a huge chance I loved him too.
I looked around for him. Had he left already? Did he leave without saying goodbye? I dabbed my eyes with my handkerchief. This was turning out to be the worst day of my life.
I turned around and saw Toba, smiling behind me. I ran to him and threw my arms around him.
“I thought you left.” I said.
“Without saying goodbye to you? I’m not that wicked.”
I smiled through my tears. “I know you are not.”
“I want you to meet my parents.”
He held my hands and took me to where his parents were standing.
“This is the girl I told you about,” He said. “Gloria.”
I curtsied. So he’d told his parents about me; that was great. Maybe today was about to get a lot better.
“How are you my dear?” His mother said. “It is nice to finally meet you.”
Toba pulled me away from them. “There’s someone else you should meet.”
“Okay.” I said. “You want to introduce me to your whole family in one day? I can come to your house for that.”
He stopped in front of a girl I’d never met before. This wasn’t any of his sisters.
“Gloria, I want you to meet Temi.” He said.
I just stood there.
“Temi, this is Gloria. Let’s just say, this girl made me. Best girl in the whole wide world. Apart from you of course.”
I just stood there.
“It’s nice to meet you Gloria.” Temi said. “Toba has told me a lot about you. Would you like to take a picture with us?”
I just stood there.